As technology continues to evolve and become more prominent in organizations of all industries, leadership teams need a forward-thinking Chief Information Officer to keep their organization on top of the new trends and best security practices. In the past 5 years, we have seen the CIO transition from a technology expert to a business problem solver. The CIO can no longer simply be knowledgeable of the latest technology. Instead, this person must know how to truly implement new technology to introduce new ways of doing business, provide innovative solutions for clients, and develop both new go-to-market and business development strategies.
Below are a few of the major trends we’re seeing in the marketplace:
- Today’s CIOs are business leaders first and IT experts second. Because technology enables all aspects of business, CIOs have needed to focus as much on strategies to grow revenues as transaction speeds. Forbes noted in a blog last fall, “IT has moved from a low-priority to high-priority, a cost center to a profit center, non-strategic to strategic.”
- The CIO’s responsibilities continue to grow. In addition to the traditional responsibilities of the CIO, many organizations are asking the CIO to take on disaster recovery and business continuity, cyber security, telephony, and mobile device support. Mike Carr, CIO of CFC, a financial services organization in the Washington, DC area, explains, “Organizations must prioritize their yearly goals for the organization and balance their goals with the urgencies of staying current with a functional business continuity program and rolling out new technologies.” Organizations need to leverage technology at an ever-increasing pace to remain competitive and look to their CIOs to have a holistic view of IT to make that possible.
- There is no easy answer to the CIO vs. CISO debate. Carr believes cyber security is a key driver of change for the CIO role. He explains, “The CIO wants to enable and accelerate business. Conducting business over the internet, using mobile technologies, teleworking methods, and leveraging the cloud enables business but also increases risk. Transactions need to be secure, and the efforts to wrap those transactions securely slow down the development and delivery time required to implement those services.” Carr also adds that as users are increasingly becoming more connected to the online world with email, web browsing, social media, mobile apps, cloud apps, etc., cyber-security is growing to be a company-wide responsibility. This increases the need for a leader to set the tone for cyber-security as the entire organization is involved with keeping information safe and secure. Depending on need, some companies may choose to distribute these responsibilities between a CIO and a CISO.
- The CIO role will continue to evolve, but not disappear. Some believe that the IT function will disappear over time. Based on what we hear from our clients and candidates, IT is here to stay, but will certainly need to adapt to the rapidly changing business environment. The blog in Forbes agrees and takes the argument one step further: “Sure, the CIO will need to become more agile, innovative, and business savvy to keep the company competitive, but having someone with a holistic view of IT is essential….More likely, the relevance of IT and the individuals running these organizations will continue to gain influence within businesses. In fact, … many a future CEO will have a resume with a strong technology background, if not a stint in IT, as strategies will be increasingly dependent on effective utilization of technology.”